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K9 Corner: Know what to do in an emergency

BY HELEN PALMER

Part of being a responsible dog owner is knowing what to do in an emergency. How do you approach a sick dog? How do you carry an injured dog? When should you “push the panic button,” and when is it all right to “wait and see?”

Your dog has crawled under the bed and is curled up in the far corner. Your call to come is answered with a whiny growl. First, don’t crawl under the bed to check him out. Do move the bed sufficiently to be able to observe his response from a safe distance. You may need to protect yourself by throwing a blanket over his head and shoulders before gathering him up for a trip to the veterinarian.

If your dog is small or medium size, this “gathering up” can be tricky if he is viciously struggling. Then you should muzzle him or confine his head in a pillow case before lifting. It may be better to transport him on a blanket stretcher if there are two people available.

If you dog is large, it may take as many as three or four people to move him. Consult your veterinarian before trying to move him; the doctor may agree to make a house call under these circumstances.

There are a variety of emergencies that require advance planning. My first dog was racing in the snow and hit a patch of ice, rupturing a disk in her back. I learned that she could have been paralyzed from the way I carried her inside and I could have been bitten. Both of us were lucky.

A reader’s dog was hit by a car and flung into a creek. The owner felt it was necessary to clean the mud off before transporting her to the veterinarian. If she was trying to protect her car from the mud, she should have used a sheet (it’s washable) under the dog. If she was embarrassed that her dog looked unkempt, she should have realized that the doctor has worked on worst cases and time might be essential under these circumstances.

There are some emergencies that require immediate attention even before the animal is taken to the veterinarian. Shock, prolonged seizure, coma, head injury, electric shock and choking may require artificial respiration and or heart massage. Are you, the dog’s owner, ready to administer either of these life-saving techniques?

Charles James helped popularize the Red Cross’s pet CPR classes, which are now taught in more than 300 cities. He has taught thousands of pet lovers in the Los Angeles area how to administer the Heimlich method to a choking dog by turning it upside down, holding the animal with its back against the rescuer’s chest and giving quick pushes against the diaphragm just below the rib cage. He also teaches mouth to snout resuscitation.

The Humane Society of the United States recommends the book, “Pet First Aid: Cats & Dogs” by Bobbie Mammato, DVM, MPH. It is available by calling (800) 486-2631.